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Dinner by Design: 5 Aesthetic Restaurants and Bars 

In the culinary and beverage world, the relationship between good design and good food has long been a topic of discussion. But, who says diners and design aficionados can’t have both? From a secret garden-inspired eatery in Atlanta to an open-air restaurant with jaw-dropping views of the ocean in Kauai, here are some of the most aesthetic locales to grab a table and snap some selfies.

Photos courtesy of The Garden Room

The Garden Room

Consider it an instant trip to an enchanted secret garden right within the city confines of Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood. The Garden Room is decked with live trees and cascading plants, a massive white tree sculpture, a glass-and-steel atrium ceiling, wooden carousel horse statues, and a custom, commissioned hand-cut glass tile mural based on a loose interpretation of Ria Munk III by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. The greenhouse-like space was transformed into a bar and eatery by Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry, whose designs include Fearing’s at The Ritz-Carlton Dallas and The Edith in Los Angeles. The food, headed up by London–born Chef Freddy Money, is dually impressive with menu selections including lobster rolls with ponzu and shiso; lamb with peas, cavatelli, and smoked potato; and Japanese eggplant with toasted peanuts and spicy vinaigrette.

Denver’s elegant Room For Milly. Photo courtesy of Room For Milly.

Room For Milly

Paying homage to its namesake, Milly Parker—a vivacious bon vivant with a penchant for all things glamorous—the glam cocktail boîte is layered with collected artwork, upholstered banquettes, lilac-hued armless dining chairs, and abstract wallpaper by Richmond, Virginia-based abstract and decorative arts designer Lindsey Cowles

Sidle up to the bar in style at Room For Milly. Photo courtesy of Room For Milly.

Set within Denver’s LoHi neighborhood, the menu offers global-inspired drinks, such as The SS City of Paris with vodka, grapefruit, rosewater, and sparkling rosé, and the Millionaire with rum, apricot liqueur, sloe gin, lime, and grenadine. Feeling peckish? There’s a selection of light bites ranging from bottomless truffle salt popcorn to trout caviar paired with French onion spread and olive oil crisps. 

Photos courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray.

Inn of the Seventh Ray

Framed by sycamore trees, expansive outdoor patios, gazebos lined with white lights, meandering paths, stone fountains, and a cascading creek, the famed, fairytale-like restaurant—with past celebrity guests including Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez—feels like a magic wonderland in the heart of Topanga Canyon. Though we’re convinced patrons will want to move in or stay overnight after experiencing the wonder of the location, the restaurant is not an inn, despite the name. Chef and co-owner Brad Miller, along with an uber-talented culinary team, sources organic and local ingredients for dishes such as housemade gnochetti with asparagus, snap peas, parmesan, watercress, and lemon oil, and char-roasted Mary’s half chicken with white balsamic honey vinaigrette, roasted fennel, carrots, cauliflower, and garlic dukkah. 

The earthy-meets-modern interior at Tía Carmen. Photo courtesy of Tía Carmen.

Tía Carmen

Affectionately named for Executive Chef Anthony Sosa’s aunt Carmen, Tía Carmen is designed by acclaimed Los Angeles-based designers Thomas Schoos and Lisa Gil of Schoos Design. (The firm’s other notable projects include Margot in Culver City and Copra in San Francisco.) Located at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, the Southwestern-inspired eatery is headed up by Chef Sosa and his business partner and restaurant developer Mark Stone. Inside, the venue is fashioned with light sand-hued walls and flooring; carved wooden doors; decorative urns and pottery; and an expansive outdoor seating area with woven canopied benches for privacy and a far-flung resort vibe. “When you walk into Tía Carmen, you feel engulfed by beauty,” Chef Sosa notes. “The design is very warm yet sensual, playing on cues from the Arizona landscape, from the soft curves and arches hugging the space to the greenery of agave plants and handmade light fixtures hanging from cathedral-like ceilings.” The food is equally as memorable. 

Avocado aguachile at Tía Carmen. Photo courtesy of Tía Carmen.

Daily breakfast features Tía Carmen Mercado, the restaurant’s version of a Mexican marketplace-meets-farmer’s market with a made-to-order omelet station; a selection of fresh salsas and guacamole; green chile pork; and an assortment of agua frescas. For dinner, menu highlights include avocado aguachile with date sesame crumble, Persian cucumber, and serrano chile; tuna crudo with chilled corn coconut broth and jicama garnished with dill; and grilled whole trout with parsley and oregano sauce.

1 Kitchen at 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay. Photos by Jennie Nunn.

1 Kitchen 

Appointed with stone walls, wooden tables, woven chairs, and rows of dangling straw pendant lamps, this breezy spot instantly feels like vacation. Located at 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay, the restaurant’s ocean views alone are worth the trip. It features a plant-forward menu that incorporates sustainably sourced ingredients from farms and purveyors around the island, along with some ingredients and fresh herbs culled from the property’s own rooftop garden. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine list with labels from more than 165 organic and biodynamic vineyards. 

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